A-Z Tips for Long Distance Amateur Runners

A Anxiety Nerves creep in, it happens to us all. Embrace it, you might even run better. A Adrenaline A surge of adrenaline on race day is certain to make you feel stronger, more energetic, and will heighten your senses. The benefit of a race day flow of adrenaline is that you will be able to run faster than you do in training.
B Baggage Drop Make sure you get their early and make use of this facility. Don’t forget to pack your post-race essentials in here too including a recovery shake/food. B Bananas Bananas pack a mean punch when it comes to nutrients.  They are a quick, convenient, portable snack that are also high in potassium. Potassium is an important electrolyte that’s lost in sweat so get munching. I always opt for real food over gels as I’m able to digest them quickly without having runner’s tummy.
C Chafing Ouch. Use Vaseline everywhere. I have sensitive skin and even the label in my shorts causes chafing over a long distance. I cover my feet before racing too and never have blisters. C Charity Run for a charity that has meaning to you. It makes the training and hard graft more meaningful and worthwhile. Plus, the money raised will make a difference to the lives of others.
D Deep Tissue Massage 7 days pre-race is perfect. Treat yourself during the taper weeks. Also note that a massage straight after a race is counterproductive to the recovery process so wait until muscle soreness has eased. D DOMS Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. To treat wear compression garments and use a foam roller to gently stretch out sore muscles.
E Electrolytes We lose electrolytes in our sweat, making it important to replenish during a race. A deficiency in certain electrolytes, combined with dehydration will cause muscle cramps. E Electronic tracking Give you race number to friends and family. People love getting involved on the day and tracking your progress. Beware though as this comes with added pressure!
F Fibre Those with gut sensitivities reduce your fibre intake 24-48hrs pre-race. Non one wants runner’s tummy.   F Fun Enjoy it, you may be checking your pacing every km but remember you are one of the lucky ones out of the 414168 who weren’t successful in the ballot. That a good enough reason to SMILE!
G GPS I wouldn’t be without mine. Essential piece of kit recording distance and pace per km/mile. When your running brain gets tired you can rely on this accurate, high-tech gadget.   G Glycogen Is an energy reserve that can be quickly mobilised to meet sudden needs. It’s made and stored in the liver and muscle cells. Don’t be that person who ‘hits the wall’ i.e. running so low on glycogen that blood sugar levels drop resulting in a rapid decrease in performance. Make sure you carb load sufficiently 2-3 days before an endurance race & refuel as you race. Stored glycogen we only last 60-90mins.
H Hydration If you’ve been running for less than an hour, plain water is a good choice. If you have been running hard for longer than an hour, drinks containing sugar or maltodextrin (a slow-release carbohydrate) and sodium may speed your recovery. Researchers at Loughborough University found that when runners drank a sports drink (5.5g carbohydrate/100ml), they improved their running time by 3.9 minutes over 42km compared with drinking water. H Horse Guards Parade Make sure you have arranged to meet at a ‘letter’ once you have crossed the finish line. HGP gets incredibly busy and mobile phone connectivity if poor (network overloaded) making it nearly impossible to make calls post-race.
I Injury If you have made it to the race without injury, well done! If you do pick up a niggle during the months of training beforehand go and see a professional. The longer you ignore it the harder it will be to overcome. As running is a repetitive movement make sure you add cross training sessions into your plan. These can include weight training, yoga, swimming, cycling et. This will reduce the likelihood of injury.   I Illness Don’t run if you’re not feeling 100%. It’s not worth the risk. Sure, it’s a blow but come back stronger and give it your best shot when your body is in tip top condition.  
J Joints A common complaint in runners. Make sure you do dynamic stretching before running, take a warm bath post workout, rest and get a massage every so often. J Joy Celebrate completion. Blow your own trumpet, you did it! Be proud and relish the moment. The London Marathon is an experience you will never forget, especially your first.
K Kudos Don’t live by it. Yes, Strava has its merit’s but every run isn’t an opportunity to brag. Running goals are personal, be the best you can be. Make sure you are your biggest advocate and you’re a winner.   K Kindness Endurance races are tough, that’s what makes them such a challenge. So what if it didn’t go to plan, learn from it and move on. Be kind to yourself and your give your body.
L LSD Long slow distance (LSD) is a form of aerobic endurance training in running. It helps strengthen your muscles – especially legs, arms and torso. As well as strengthening your respiratory, cardio and muscular systems to be more efficient. If you want to complete endurance races this must be mirrored in training. No surprises, I hope. L London London. A truly amazing city to run a marathon. Needs to be on your bucket list! Make a weekend of it, stay somewhere pre and post-race and go see the sights. Be sure to use public transport pre-race day to keep those legs rested.
M Mental Strength Is needed during tough training runs as well as on race day. ‘What the mind believes, the body achieves’ is a true and powerful mantra. Self-belief and confidence needs to occupy your brain to succeed.   M MS Society This was my chosen charity; I was running for my mum. The charity options are endless and will significantly increase your chances of getting a place in the London Marathon.
N Nutrition Nutrition is key to a successful performance on race day. Practise your chosen forms (gels, electrolytes, solid foods etc) on training runs months before. Know what suits your body. Whatever you do DON’T try anything new during the race or get a hot and spicy curry the day prior. Keep foods plain and simple. N Nutter No, you are not a nutter for challenging yourself. If this thought comes into your mind at any point, banish it. The greatest of achievements comes from the greatest of challenges. You are inspiring to all.  
O Old Clothes You might think this is an odd one? Purchase an oversized warm jumper (from a charity shop) to wear after you have put your belongings into the baggage drop. You may still have a long time to wait until the official start.  Keep your muscles warm for as long as possible. When you’re ready toss your jumper to the roadside. Volunteers sweep these up once the race has begun so don’t feel bad about doing it! O Overuse Overuse injuries are common with runners. The repetitive motion increases stress on joints and muscles. Make sure you cross train regularly, don’t neglect stretching and see a therapist every few months.
P Planning Success is in the planning. Write your plan or adapt one of the many online versions available. Plan every run, plan your nutrition, plan pre and race-day logistics. Don’t leave things to chance. The more organised you are the less stressful the lead up should be. Focus your energy on you and your race not manically trying to book a hotel room the night before.     P Pacing Pacing. Stick to your practised race pace initially, do this alone or with the help of an official race pacer. If you feel strong mid-way increase your pace gradually, hold your form and remain strong to the finish.
Q Quadriceps A group of muscles located at the front of the thigh. They will take a pounding on race day so ensure you include leg focused strength and conditioning sessions during training to develop these muscles. Q Queues A forte of us British folk! You can’t avoid them over 42,000 people WILL need the toilet before the start! Allow plenty of time for everything to reduce stress levels.
R Run Routes You are going to rack up many miles along many routes during training. Keep them varied to reduce boredom. Mimic the race terrain and get a friend to ride alongside you during those longer runs. R Rest & Recovery Your taking on a huge challenge. Your body will need scheduled easier training weeks days and days of rest and recovery and. This is when the magic happens! It not an ‘off’ day it’s a ‘growth’ day. When you take a rest day you build more muscle, replenish glycogen stores more easily, and let the nervous system get back to an optimal working state. This will help you improve your performance on the day you get back to the gym or run.
S Sports Bra Getting one with the right amount of support is literally priceless if you want to run pain free. I’m not blessed in this area but would always so for trusted sports brands and try before you buy. Don’t chance your luck online.   S Spectators & Support Crew Spectator cheering during the marathon was unbelievable and certainly keeps you going when your feeling it most. However, don’t let the hype increase your pace. It’s very easy to get carried away with the crowds but remember they aren’t running 26+ miles! During an ultra a support crew is crucial. Being driven to the start and home again is a necessity and meeting them along the route is a real boost. They can also give you a change of kit, extra/specific nutrition or a stern talking to.
T Trainers A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300–400 miles, depending on your running style, body weight, and the surface on which you run. Get your gait analysis taken before purchasing running trainers. Allow the professionals to advise you on the most suitable pair for your feet and running style. Don’t just go for the pretty ones, think of this as an added bonus! T Toenails Cut them short a week before race day. Make sure there are no sharp edges as this could cause blisters or broken skin.
U Ultra-marathon  Strictly any distance over a marathon, 26.2 miles. If your new to endurance races look around for a 50k (30mile) race. A great place to start is www.runultra.co.uk U Underground Can be daunting if you’re not a regular commuter in London. However, on race day the extra staff will help point you in the right direction. Runners also travel for free until 6pm.
V Vaseline I cover my feet in Vaseline to stop blisters, above my eyebrows to stop sweat going into my eyes and anywhere else to stop chafing. On race day a dollop behind your ear can also come in useful. You don’t want to be caught out! V Victorious When you complete, celebrate! Be proud of your achievement and enjoy the praise that follows.
W Watch Make sure your watch is fully charged and you use it to keep race of your pace. If running an ultra and battery life is a concern, Suunto has topped every GPS watch on the market with the Suunto 9 Baro. While this isn’t an inexpensive watch, it has by far the longest battery life at 25 to 125 hours. W Water It’s suggested that during a marathon runners drink about 400-800ml of fluid per hour, with the upper level being in warmer environments for faster and heavier runners, and the lower level in cooler conditions for slower runners. Make the most of the water stations if you’re not running with a hydration pack. Find out the mile number they are located so you can plan wisely.
X Brain can’t think of anything. Help! X Brain can’t think of anything. Help!
Y Your achievement Never compare yourself to others. Run for you. There will always be other people faster and slower than you. Enjoy your journey and running achievement(s). Y YES You did it. PMA all the way!  
Z Zapped Expect to feel this at some point either in training or during the race. A sudden lack of energy isn’t something to be taken lightly, prepare for it and make sure your have the correct nutrition for you and your body.    Z Zzzzz’s….more sleep! The average amateur athlete takes 3 weeks for their body to recover post marathon. First week off or a few light jogs if you are feeling well then very light training for 2 weeks post-race.